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Indie Writer Philippines

Writing Now

Miki and Ana’s Twenty Questions

In Songs to Get Over You, Ana suggests that she and Miki get to know each other better by playing Twenty Questions. Now I don’t know the actual questions you’d find if you get this game, but as Ana said, the rules are pretty simple: 1. You answer all the questions, and 2. The questions don’t have to end at 20.

So here I’m sharing with you Miki and Ana’s version of the game. I’ve put down my own answers (feel free to ignore them, haha), and I thought it would be fun if you answer them too. Tag me?

Okay, GO!

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Book Review

Review and Excerpts: Settle the Score / Hustle Play by Tara Frejas

Settle the Score

College senior Garnet Figueroa lives and breathes basketball. A reliable asset to her varsity team, she is equipped with the skills and smarts to get the De La Sierra Lady Hunters closer to this year’s championship title. But Garnet soon finds out that her good friend (and long-time crush), cheerdancer Charles Crisostomo, is being cheated on by his girl, and she lets her emotions get the best of her.

Will she be able to come up with a game plan to save herself from heartbreak before the buzzer signals Game Over?

Hustle Play

Running on pure adrenaline and working with game strategies is something a basketball player like Garnet Figueroa is trained for. On the court, she is unbeatable. Off the court… that’s a completely different story.

Because falling in love is trickier than a ball game, and Garnet finds herself fumbling over her feelings for Charles Crisostomo. The fact that her attention gets divided between him and rival school hard-court hottie Chris Barcelo doesn’t help.

Or does it?

***

Review

You can never go wrong with a Tara Frejas book. I love Garnet and Charles, and I love how Frejas explores the changes in their dynamics from Settle the Score to Hustle Play. Plus it’s a male cheerleader and a female basketball player! Set in the Philippines! If you live here too, you’d have an idea how intensely invested Filipinos are to both sports, especially on the collegiate level, and the switch from the usual gender assignments brings a new layer to this sports-oriented, friends-to-lovers romance. I really wish Frejas will write more stories from this universe 🙂

Read an Excerpt from Settle the Score Continue Reading

Writing Now

#FeelsFest Recap. The Day Was Aptly Named

You’d think after #AprilFeelsDay, #FeelsRushIn and MIBF I’d be immune to the waves of emotions brought about by each #romanceclass Feels Day. You would think. But like every fresh listen to a song or  instance of a kiss, each time is different from the last. There is always something new, a new feeling to discover.

ATM. #feelsfest #romanceclass #supportfilipinoauthors

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Last Saturday, October 22 was #FeelsFest, and for this there were new activities, new gimmicks, some tweaks in the experiment. There were old friends to hug and new faces to meet and enjoy the day with. There were also games and amazing prizes, and more stickers, shirts and other merchandise too. We even had a photo booth of sorts thanks to the funky visual aids and a very photogenic brick wall.

ATM. #feelsfest #romanceclass #supportfilipinoauthors

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#feelsfest loot! 😍 #Romanceclass

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There were also new books. A lot of new books. 20 or so titles lovingly created and launched by the authors (raises hand) in five-minute intervals.

Feelings for sale. #FeelsFest #romanceclass

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But before that there were the live readings. We have this every time. These performances always comprise the highlight of each event. But as with everything else, the readings were not only unique per book, but were also distinctive of the actor performing (they’ve been assigned their own tropes, by the way. Don’t tell them). Even the same actor who’s done this for us many times could still surprise us and throw us into a fit of squeals and high jumps. I’m looking at you, G. Thank you/love you.

Moments during the live readings. ❤️ #romanceclass #FeelsFest

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To the Authors & Storytellers you guys are awesome! Thanks for the feels. #polexplores #romanceclass #feelsfest

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If you weren’t there, here’s a big hug. Because if you like books, romance, and feelings, cute actors and authors who are always always happy to see you, you really did miss a lot. Make sure to drop by next time, yes?

If you were there, here’s a big hug too. Big big hug. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my overflowing heart. Thank you for picking up our books, for reading them and talking about them. For loving our book people the way we do, and sharing your love to others. I came into this community with a weird J-dorama book and not much of a clue what I signed up for. I still am not sure what I signed up for sometimes, because #romanceclass people are crazy HAHA. But it’s the kind of crazy that keeps me on the edge, exhilarated as I anticipate the next thing, and the next. Because I know there will be feelings, and more awesome new things. There will be surprises, and escalation. And when we squeal and jump again it will be louder and higher than the last.

Pahabol photos from Saturday's event, part 1. With Ron, Jay, and Six. ❤ #romanceclass #FeelsFest

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It is my pride and privilege to call this bunch of authors family. #romanceclass

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***

#FeelsFest happened on October 22, 2016. 12-6pm, Glorietta 5 Atrium. Live readings featured actors Gio Gahol, Rachel Coates, Gab Pangilinan and Herv Alvarez, and books by Stella Torres, C.P. Santi, Ines Bautista-Yao, Ana Tejano, Dawn Lanuza and Mina V. Esguerra.

 
#romanceclass is a community of romance authors and readers, founded by author/publisher/Queen of Feels Mina V. Esguerra. To check out the growing list of our books, go to romanceclassbooks.com. Check out our podcast here too, and then the videos below for a more visual explanation.

Book Review

Review: If the Dress Fits by Carla De Guzman

Martha Aguas kind of has it all–she’s an accountant who loves numbers, an accident-prone puppy that loves her, and the perfect wardrobe.

Yes, she wears a dress size 24, her bras don’t fit and she’s never had a boyfriend, but so what?

It becomes a big deal when her perfect cousin Regina announces her engagement to Enzo, the only boy she’s ever loved (he doesn’t know, so don’t tell him!) Suddenly Aguases from all corners of the globe are coming for the event, and the last thing Martha wants is to be asked why she still prefers her lattes with a waffle on the side.

Thank god for Max. Goofy, funny, dependable Max, who finds himself playing the fake boyfriend at the family festivities. But why does it feel like only one of them is pretending?

***

Martha won my heart from the first page. Here is a girl who is strong, smart, efficient (favorite), warm and loving. Who is able to look a hefty serving of freshly cooked fries in the face and think “I want you,” and feel no shame. She loves her body, and despite moments wherein her confidence wavers, she owns it, and she knows she doesn’t need to be a size zero to look amazing.  And then there’s Max, her hot, bookish veterinarian best friend. If those words strung together are not enough to get you, know that he is sweet and wonderful and he cares for Martha the way she needs to be cared for. He is protective of her without the machismo. He sees through her and calls her out when she’s a little less honest with herself. But not all the time, though, and not in all the ways that matter, cos otherwise we won’t have the delicious conflict and the tightly strung tension between them.

Then there’s Enzo, the teenage dream, the theater crush. I kind of had a wall up against him from the get go (maybe because we’ve been hurt by theater crushes a lot these days hehe), but I learned to like him in all his imperfect glory.

I loved the titas, the dog, the cousin, the mom and dad and the sister, even the office people. I wish I got to know Regina a bit more, why she turned around the way she did. But it’s okay. At times, the number of the supporting characters made me feel like I was a stranger thrown into a friend’s family dinner party, and introduced to the lot of them all in one night. But they were a lovely, crazy bunch. And it was easy to pick out things that I myself would hear in my own family dinners. (This, by the way, fortified my belief that there really is a Pinoy tita/lola code somewhere. Where is that code book? Maybe let’s burn it hehe)

Read it because it’s a heart-warming story brimming with girl power and body positivity without being weighed down by angst. Read it because Max is lovely and he quotes Mr. Darcy. And because Martha is the kind of girl you’d instantly root for, and she makes it easier for you to do so because she fights for her own happiness.

***

Get your ebook on Amazon, and paperback on Feels Fest!

 

Writing Now

Happy Book Birthday, Shinta! Songs to Make You Stay is Live <3

I agonize over writing a lot (normal), but it took me more than a few months to finally decide and write this book. As far back as last year (soon after releasing Songs of Our Breakup), my friend/fairy godmother Layla and I had been plot-bunnying about this. It was supposed to be Miki and Shinta in one book, in alternating perspectives. But then I thought, ‘no, what a mess that would be.’ Also they deserved more than that <3 So Miki got his own book, Songs to Get Over You. Now Shinta has gotten his, and they share the same timeline.

Although I thought I left him and Jill in a happy space in Songs of Our Breakup, I also knew it wasn’t going to be easy for them. Because long distance relationship. And celebrity problems, on both sides and in different ways.

So yay, here you go. Here’s Shinta’s story. I hope you’ll enjoy spending more time with him like I did. Happy book birthday, Shinta*!

Songs to Make You Stay (Playlist #3)

Love isn’t supposed to be this hard.

Now that he’s finally won Jill, the girl who’s always rocked his world, you’d think life would be heaven on earth for Shinta Mori. In a way, it is. But maybe he’s underestimated the fact that he’s a hunky movie star in Japan while his girl is ruling the indie music scene all the way in Manila.

When he spends a long-awaited vacation with her–through impromptu performances, frenzied flyer distribution, and unhinged radio guestings–he realizes how imperfect his seemingly perfect life is. And he begins to wonder if what they have is strong enough to survive years of being apart.

Can Shinta prove he’s worthy of the spotlight the universe shines on him? And more importantly, deserving of the devotion of a young girl in love?

Cover design by Tania Arpa. Photography by Hazel Caasi, featuring Yuki Sakamoto.

Available on Amazon. Paperback launching on #romanceclass FeelsFest. Also available via this form.

*Happy birthday to you too, John Lennon!

 

 

Writing Now

A Day in the Friendzone. November 17, Monday, afternoon, one year ago

This is a companion short story to Miki‘s book, Songs to Get Over You.

***

“That girl?”

“Nope.”

“The one to her left? Pink sweater, legs that go on for days. Wow.”

“I’m pretty sure I can’t.”

“How about her friend?”

“Too bulky…”

“Mikhail. Are you a weight-ist?”

“No!” Miki shrank back at the laser beam glare Jill shot at him. He put both palms up and rushed out his explanation. “I actually think she’s pretty and perfectly rounded in the right places.”

They were sitting on the gnarled wooden bench in the College of Economics front lobby, slumped on their seats, limbs in lazy angles, trying to wind down after a full day of classes. Jill pulled herself up to the straightest line her long spine would allow, hovering over Miki with her signature stern stare.

“Then what?” she hissed through pursed lips.

Miki winced, eyes darting back to the girl in question. He thought he recognized her from one of their Economics classes. The pretty and perfectly rounded girl had stretched out on the aged bench a few meters away from the one he and Jill had claimed.

The decrepit wood creaked in protest against the girl’s sudden movement. Miki was sure Jill heard it too.

“I think she can crush me,” he muttered.

Jill bit her lip, her eyes on the same scene. “You do bruise like an overripe mango.”

“See?” He grinned in triumph. He unlocked his tense limbs, glad the game of Find Miki a Girl to Ask Out had wound down. “Now what do you say we hit the library like we said we would before heading home?”

“This is hopeless,” Jill cut through him, wringing her hands. Apparently it was not game over yet. “I can’t be friends with an NGSB!”

Miki rolled his eyes. It was a habit he had picked up after years of hanging out with this girl. And it was a habit he’d used on her often, in times such as these when she claimed a term like NGSB. As in ‘No Girlfriend Since Birth.’ Miki sighed. Their bandmates Nino and Son almost died laughing when they first heard Jill say the term. But after those seemingly endless rounds of laughter they teamed up with Jill in her appeals to get Miki ‘exorcised’ from this condition. 

“Why not? It’s not a disease.” Miki felt he’d made this argument too many times already in the past few weeks.

Jill turned her entire body to face him, edging closer with one knee pulled up against her chest. “But you always tell me what to do with Kim. How can I trust your relationship advice when you’ve never even been in one?”

Her dark eyes were wide and grave. Miki knew she was serious, and funnily so, very much concerned about this whole issue. It was fine, though. He didn’t expect Jill to get it. That he didn’t need to be a girl’s boyfriend to be in love with her. Not all guys got to enjoy that luxury.

Of course she didn’t get it.

***

Read the rest of the story in author Ines Bautista-Yao‘s blog here. Thank you for the feature, Ines! MUAH <3

Songs to Get Over You is available on Amazon and in print here.